The rate of economic growth of countries in central and eastern Europe kin the next few years would be faster than the countries in western Europe, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said on Thursday.
The combined gross domestic product of the countries in central and eastern Europe should return to the level that was seen prior to the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Georgieva said while addressing a summit of the Three Seas Initiative, which is a body that brings together 12 European Union member states that are located mainly in central and eastern Europe and the Baltics.
“We expect that the year 2021 would be when the region will reach its 2019 level of GDP, ahead of many others in the world,” she said in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia.
The name of the body – the Three Seas Initiative, is based on the three seas that border the region — the Baltic, Adriatic and Black Seas. The members of the body include Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.
The summit of the body is held annually to boost cooperation between the member countries and boost economic, energy, transport and digital ties.
About 4 per cent shrinkage on the average was experienced by the economies of the countries in the group during the pandemic, Georgieva said, which was about half of the average shrinkage experienced by the countries in western Europe in the same period.
Georgieva said she expects that the annual economic growth of the in the countries in the Three Seas Initiative would be 1.2 per cent higher than those of their western neighbours between now and 2025.
Speaking at the same summit, the Polish President Andrzej Duda has said that the Three Seas initiative accounted for “a huge part of Europe’s economic growth.”
The initiative or the group that was created in 2015 is now blooming, Duda said, with the United States, German, French and Japanese leaders also participating in the Three Seas Summit this week.
“This shows that our partners, who have huge global economies, can see the great potential in our cooperation,” Duda said in Sofia on Friday. “There are 120 million EU citizens in the Three Seas region and the Three Seas is now a huge part of Europe’s economic growth, and the fastest-growing part of Europe.”
The region could see growth figures of up to 4.8 per cent this year, the polish president said citing reports by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Criticisms that this regional grouping could weaken the European Union were also brushed aside by Duda.
“For me, cooperation within the Three Seas is an important element in the development of the European Union,” he said.
The Three Seas Initiative was established by the Polish and Croatian presidents to promote cross-country energy and infrastructure links.
(Adapted from Reuters.com & the fristnews.com)